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The attitudes of the students toward creativity were better than controls. Art education focused on creative behavior and problem solving was determined to be important for gifted young people.
A 3-year study to test the influence of a creative-aesthetic approach to school readiness and beginning reading and arithmetic produced significantly higher scores for kindergarten children on tests of creative thinking, problem solving, and originality. Fluency, flexibility, and originality ratings were consistently around the fifth-grade level.
Programed instruction for specific skills and television instruction have been found effective with gifted students. Programs designed to use multiple resources have shown that gifted students score significantly higher than equally gifted controls in ability to learn, in motivation, in their use of abilities, and in self-indentity.
In the California State study, special arrangements for more than a thousand pupils accommodated special talents, school system philosophies, the rural gifted in remote schools as well as the full-time and part-time needs of the urban and suburban gifted; community resources were meshed with student interests. Carefully matched control groups were established. The highly significant gains of the special groups at all grade levels in academic, social, and psychological areas were attributed to careful preservice and inservice preparation of teachers; the assignment of special consultants for full-time assistance; appropriate learning opportunities (both in and out of school); a wide variety of community resources; close interschool liaison; and close collaboration with parents.
The sources and details of these studies can be found in Volume II.
CAN THE CURRENT PUBLIC SCHOOL STRUCTURE PROVIDE ADEQUATELY
FOR THE GIFTED AND TALENTED?
Yes, given certain conditions. Schools which provide adequately for the gifted and talented are those in which educational plans are based on the actual needs and interests of the pupil, where freedom from the restrictions of structure requirements and schedule are possible, where pupils are given access to needed resources regardless of location, and where suitable teachers are utilized whether they possess credentials or not. Such schools have administrators who are fully aware of the gifted and their needs, and a faculty who have studied these pupils. Parents are closely involved in these programs. A special consultant assigned to the gifted is available to provide inservice and direct assistance to the adult participants.
WHAT ARE THE NECESSARY COMPONENTS OF A GOOD PROGRAM ?
Dovre need new buildings, libraries, and laboratories?
Intelligent use of facilities and materials is governed by the knowledge of the users. If that knowledge is absent, capital expenditures will be wasted.
In urban communities where libraries and laboratories are available, educators have made special arrangements for individuals to use materials and to experiment under supervision. Good libraries and labcatory spare in sebeci we hixhly desirable, with open areas for Sprin urmaets and study. Even with good libraries and adequately Strice, punoratories, it is necessary to use auxiliary resources and materi.ls, if the siweial 'presis of the gifted are to be met. Special prostrad's have been restricted in their success because of limited faciuties. I'rovisions should be made so that gifted students, whether urban po iural, have access to resources and space.
Snel transportation finds should be available for needed study and researh opportunities. These should not be categorically limited, but should be documented and justified. These funds may be required for widely varying and sometimes unpredictable purposes, ranging froin archaeological studies by special interest groups, to gathering of research specimens for marine, botanical, or geological research, to visits to specialized hbrari's and museumis, to special contacts with artists; from individual studies of political process, to documentary studies, to recording of itemiew or photographic data, to acquisition of unaccessible materials.
Vedia and material needs are also impredictable in advance. Funds should be made available for purchase of standard equipment and expendable supplies so that students who wish to function in areas of creative expression may do so. The young painter or musician should not be restriced by the nonyvailability of supplies, equipment, musical scores, or suitable instruments. Similarly, the yomg person who wishes to report nis research findings creatively should have access to the necessary photographie or graphic resource materials and media. Ready availability of matı rials and encouragement to use them enhance interest in learning and extend talents.
See Volume II for details and documentation of these generations.
WHAT KINDS OF PERSONNEL ARE NEEDED?
The teacher is the key to effective programs and the effective use of resources. Preparation of teachers to work with the gifted should precede expenditures on materials and facilities, which should be recommended by informal school personnel after careful planning for a given population of gifted and talented pupils.
The need for the special teacher preparation is apparent. Teachers with no special background have been found disinterested in and even hostile toward the gifted. They believe that the gifted will reveal themselves through academic grades, that they need all existing content plus more, and that teachers should add to existing curriculum requirements rather than delete anything.
Teachers who have worked with special programs tend to be enthusiastic, whereas those who have not are generally hostile. Opportunities for experience with programs and inservice preparation produce changes to more favorable teacher attitudes toward both gifted children and special programs.
The need for general inservice programs is evident from findings that 50 percent of public school educators opposed acceleration, despite research evidence that acceleration is beneficial at every level from kindergarten to college. Even in studies which have produced significantly favorable results, authors have commented on lack of articulation, heavy demands, evaluation problems, lack of teacher
background, the inability of the school to deal with basic problems, and the unwillingness of the faculty members to free gifted students for needed independent learning.
Even when teachers of the gifted are carefully selected and represent the highest levels of professional competence, their teaching performance can be significantly improved through inservice study. Highly desirable changes in the quality of learning, communication, classroom content, and diversity of classroom experiences have resulted. Other benefits reported by teachers include increase in teaching skills, knowledge of subject matter, and increased appreciation of the needs of the gifted.
Studies of successful teachers for the gifted typically have dealt with their characteristics and behavior more often than with their specific preparation. In general, the successful teachers are highly intelligent, are interested in scholarly and artistic pursuits, have wide interests, are mature and unthreatened, possess a sense of humor, are more student centered than their colleagues, and are enthusiastic about both teaching and advanced study for themselves.
The problem of credentials poses difficulty when the complexity and diversity of teaching the gifted and talented at all levels is considered. Quite evidently an array of prescribed courses typical of other credentials is inadequate; probably the credentials should be planned as an individualized program of studies. Recommendations for such a program have been outlined in a recent publication dealing with professional standards for teachers and other personnel.
School personnel other than teachers need special preparation to understand the needs of the gifted. Administrators often determine the existence of programs, decree their abolition, or deny the need for them.
Over half of a representative sample of schools in the United States reported no gifted students in their schools! The statement may be ascribed to apathy or hostility, but not to fact.
Even groups with special preparation which presumably should make them especially alert to individual differences are indifferent or hostile toward the gifted. Counselors in several studies were found to be more concerned with remedial problems than with the gifted. Student personnel departments in 20 western colleges and universities gave little special attention to the gifted and their problems. One study found significantly greater hostility toward the gifted among school psychologists than among other school personnel.
All of these studies indicate the need for comprehensive inservice preparation for those school personnel who contact or affect the gifted. Teachers who are prepared and interested need informed and sympathetic auxiliary support.
Volume II provides documentation of these assertions.
WHAT DOES A GOOD PROGRAM COST?
We frankly don't know because an optimal program has never been funded. Costs of programs for the gifted are frequently constrained or limited to the monies which can be made available—which in turn constrains the kinds of activities carried out with these funds. That is, limitations of expenditures to $40 per child served can scarcely do more than support a program for identification of the target population.
The "excess cost" from various programs for the gifted and talented children does increase the cost of education for these students beyond the average per capita expenditures in the school district. The interaction between available funds and educational responses provided makes it difficult to project costs for a national program with any degree of certainty because: (1) what would or could be provided in various areas seems to depend on amounts of funds available; and (2) there has been no evaluation of the cost effectiveness of various approaches for helping the gifted reach their maximum level of performance; cost figures for development are financially optimal programs are nonexistent.
Until basic cost data can be accumulated from a statistical search, only estimates based on local and State experience can be used. Estimates would differ markedly if existing support levels are used as a criterion, as opposed to costs documented by studies. For example, the Illinois support level is $28 per child per year; California provides $65, including identification. Administrators responsible for programs idnicate that these sums cannot be interpreted as more than token payment to encourage local effort. The California State Department of Education has for several years supported bills to increase aid to the gifted by $200 per pupil each year. In 1971, no increase is being advocated, since the department is promoting legislation to increase basic support rather than categorical aid. Funds are not allocated by local school systems for the gifted, in spite of evident need. If the California allocation were that recommended in 1961, the State expenditure for the gifted would be $32,500,000 rather than the current $7,000,000.
Since very few States have had experience with the conduct of statewide programs, and even where these exist the support figure is far from ideal, the problem of costs merits further investigation.
PRIORITIES AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Data from research studies suggest that these priorities be established:
1. Systematic inservice preparation for school personnel, including teachers and others who affect the learning opportunities of the gifted and talented.
a. Fellowships for special preparation
c. Establishment of preparation centers for demonstration programs, experimentation, research, and teaching 2. Support of research and experimental programs.
a. Programs to improve identification of gifted from varied backgrounds and cultures
b. Programs to identify added human capacities and talents
e. Programs for preschool gifted and talented, including those from poor economic backgrounds
f. Exemplary programs in school systems
3. Establishment of a Federal office for dissemination of information and improvement of efforts for the gifted
a. ['se of media to improve understanding by educators and the general public
b. Dissemination of informational materials to educators
c. Provision of leadership to State and national educational agencies, to assure proper use of available and future funds.
d. Development of linkages for better understanding 4. Support for evaluation and dissemination of new findings. 5. Continuing support for exemplary programs.
Now that we have seen what the needs are, let us see what is available for the gifted and talented in the various States.